Before anyone gets unnecessarily excited, it’s not a bad bite and everyone is fine.
Friday night after dinner I finished cleaning up the kitchen and went to the bathroom (because you all know everything happens in the two minutes it takes to pee). Friday night is movie night here, so Samantha and Ella were impatiently waiting for me to start the movie by running around like monkeys.
I heard a high pitched yelp followed immediately by screaming. I ran out of the bathroom to see Ella holding her face and crying hysterically. I saw both her eyes were fine. For some reason, having a bite to an eye has always been my biggest fear.
“What happened?” I asked.
She blubbered something I couldn’t understand. Samantha said she had tripped and fallen on the sleeping dog who bit her.
I picked Ella up, put the dog in the backyard, and got Ella to move her hand. There was a puncture wound and a long gash down the side of her cheek. They were bleeding, and I couldn’t see how deep they were. A little washing and it was clear it wasn’t too serious and she wouldn’t need any stitches.
I got the three girls ready and drove around trying to find the urgent care center. It’s about fifteen minutes away. It took me an hour to find it because I didn’t know exactly where it was and it’s not well marked. You know, like with a sign or something . By the time we got there, my husband had also found it on his way home from work. He took the other two home and I took Ella to the doctor.
They cleaned the wound up and prescribed some antibiotics and a hat and sunscreen to prevent scarring.
I’m chalking it up to an accidental bite. When kids and dogs get together, there is always the risk of a bite occurring. In this case, Ella hurt the dog, who responded as dogs do, with an open mouth. As a vet, I feel comfortable telling the difference between an oops and an aggressive bite.
Fact: Most bites in the US occur to children under the age of six by a family pet.
Not some random dog on the street. Not Pit Bull maulings. The family pet. Little kids often unintentionally hurt dogs and all dogs will bite given the right circumstances.
I’ll repeat that one in bold. All dogs will bite. It is a natural instinct and the primary means of protecting themselves. Different dogs have different tolerance levels, but all dogs will bite.
Do you know which breed is considered the most aggressive to people? (I’ll answer that at the end of the post.)
If you have a dog and a child, there’s a decent chance you’ll be dealing with a bite at some point. So, what do you do when a dog bites your child?
1. Separate them.
Put the dog outside, in another room with the door closed, or in their crate if you have one. Deal with your child first.
2. Assess the wound
If it’s a severe bite or a mauling where there is a lot of blood loss, call 9-1-1. If you feel you can deal with it in a non-emergency situation, wash the wound. If you have betadine solution, use that. If not, use soap. If you can, put the bite under running water while you wash with soap. The running water will help flush the bacteria out of the wound. Wash it before you head to your doctor or urgent care facility. Washing it right away will help prevent infection.
3. See a Doctor
Ella’s wound was not deep enough that I would normally have gone to the doctor. But since it was the result of an animal bite, I knew she needed antibiotics. The doctor should clean or flush the wound and prescribe antibiotics. Generally, Augmentin is considered the best antibiotic for a bite wound. They will place stitches or dermabond if necessary.
Here’s the deal. I’m a vet. I’ve been bitten. I’ve never bothered going to the doctor for the antibiotics (although I always do a surgical scrub on the wound with betadine). But animal bites (cat’s are the worst) can develop a serious infection. Really serious. For myself, I’m willing to take the risk because I know I’ll keep the area clean and I trust I’ll be able to tell that it’s not feeling right or healing right. I don’t trust my almost three year old to recognize that nor am I willing to take the risk with her. So, if the skin is broken, go to the doctor right away. Urgent care if it’s after hours.
4. Deal with the Dog
You’ll have to decide if you feel the bite was an oops or if your dog was being unnecessarily aggressive, and if it’s a pattern or a one-time, excusable incident. Maybe you need to keep the dog separated from the kids. Maybe you need to do nothing and just move on. Maybe you need to talk to your vet or a veterinary behaviorist to have a real assessment done.
Which breed did you guess is the most aggressive to people? Pitt bull? Rottweiler? Chow Chow? Akita? Nope. It’s the English Cocker Spaniel. It’s been studied.
Has your child ever been bitten by a dog? How old were they?